Poor little Happy Feet. His woeful tale just keeps getting worse.
The story of this lost Emperor Penguin that waddled up onto a New Zealand beach last week captured the hearts of world. We watched as he ambled around on Peka Peka Beach on New Zealand's North Island. We laughed and marveled at how the silly bird could have got so lost that he ended up some 2000 miles away from his Antarctic home.
Then, the story took a sad turn.
First, Happy Feet looked confused, dehydrated, and sick. He began impulsively eating sand and twigs.
Initially, wildlife officials were reluctant to take the penguin in, saying that they would leave the bird to his own devices. However, as his health deteriorated and his plight gained international attention, Happy Feet was taken to Wellington Zoo where he underwent multiple surgeries including an endoscopy with John Wyeth, the head of gastroenterology at the city's hospital.
The lost penguin was recovering in a makeshift cooler room packed with party ice and was said to be doing well, when he was dealt another blow:
The only way Happy Feet can get back home is with a special permit by the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry's Antarctic policy unit.
See, the Antarctic Treaty says that no living bird can be taken to Antarctica due to a risk of disease. Scientists fear that if Happy Feet returned, he may pass on some unknown disease to all of his friends.
Like all pressing government issues, New Zealand set up a penguin advisory committee with a panel of experts to determine the fate of Happy Feet.
Will the penguin get a permit? Will the bird dance off the coast of New Zealand's South Island and find his way home again?
What will be the fate of beloved Happy Feet?